Friday, September 5, 2008

Saturday's Musing, CutN'Pastes, and Quotes

CATO Concerned with "Who" Gets to Implement Income Taxes; not Concerned that Income Taxes are Wrong
"Poor Charlie Rangel. The chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee got some bad press in July when the sweetheart deal giving him four rent-controlled apartments became public knowledge. Now he’s getting another dose of bad publicity because he somehow forgot to report $75,000 on rental income for his luxury villa at the Punta Cana resort in the Dominican Republic.

"New York State law classifies filing a false city or state tax return a felony punishable by up to four years in prison..."

"In a good tax system, governments only tax income earned inside national borders – the common-sense practice of “territorial” taxation. As such, the only government that should be concerned about Rangel’s Domincan Republic income is the Dominican Republic. The Ways & Means chairman is only in trouble with American tax authorities because the United States has a very imperialistic system of “worldwide” taxation. [italics added]

"It’s worth noting that the chairman has not tried to fix this policy. Indeed, he wants the make the IRS bigger and the tax code more onerous."

Now wait a minute--in a good tax system, a government would not attempt to tax the means of production, meaning it would not tax the efforts to produce, which means it would not tax the produced earnings of either individuals or of corportations. What would replace income tax is outside the scope of the discussion, namely that taxation of productive capacity reduces that capacity.

CATO Gets This Wrong, Too
Cato-at-liberty reported that during his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, John McCain spoke about pledging federal support for alternative energy so the United States can reduce the amount of energy it imports from abroad. Cato-at-liberty then tied it to another project, quoting the Repulican candidate: “When I’m president,” McCain told cheering delegates, “we’re going to embark on the most ambitious national project in decades. We are going to stop sending $700 billion a year to countries that don’t like us very much. We will attack the problem on every front.”

Cato-at-liberty then asked: "Specifically, where did that $700 billion number come from?
That is far more than what we pay for imported energy. In 2007, Americans spent less than half that amount—$319 billion—for imported energy of all kinds, including oil and natural gas. Even with higher energy prices in 2008, our total bill for imported energy this year will be nowhere near $700 billion."

When I first heard McCain make that pledge, about a week ago, he didn't seem, then, to tie it only to the money we pay for oil. It seemed he was talking about the money we altruistically send to help nations in poverty, and to help feed them, and to help care for them medically, etc., when in the end all our altruism gets us is criticism on the political front from some of those nations--not to mention a bigger tax bill.

I think if he wins, one way he will lower our taxes is by vetoing money to those nations. McCain "vowed that he would halt aid to hostile countries [by saying] 'We are going to stop sending $700 billion a year to countries that don't like us very much..." [italics added]
Minneapolis Star Tribune, MN

Atheists Who Don't Deny the Existence of Gods?
Austin Cline's blog in states: "Many people insist that atheism is really the denial of the existence of God" but that this "pretends that atheism is exclusively about their god, the god common to Christians, Jews, and Muslims."

Why doesn't it apply to any god, like Diana or Zeus, or like Ngai, the Maasai name for God? Why doesn't it apply to the Xhosa name of Uthixo? to the Chinese God Shangdi? I'm certain there must be atheists in those cultures who deny the existence of any and all gods.

But Cline goes on, adding, "[That definition of atheism] focuses on a narrow sub-set of atheism and atheists to the exclusion of all others." What other atheists are there but those who deny the existence of gods?

"Standard dictionaries," he says, "list 'disbelief in god or Gods' as the first and primary definition of atheism."

Does this mean that an atheist can believe gods exist, but not believe in them? What nonsense is that?

Sarah Palin is "Nebulously Like Me"
"She's a gutsy gal with a lot of personal appeal. She’s a former Miss Alaska runner up, a big-game hunter and an NRA member, a basketball player and a sports fan. She’s tough in the motherhood arena, choosing to have kid #5 even knowing he would have down syndrome; she gave birth and was back to work in three days and still makes time to use a breast pump at night. It’s the intangibles that could make her a big help to McCain—the nebulous sense of “like me” and [she's got a] “good story” that comes from her humble origins, can-do, unpretentious demeanor, and her penchant for all-American stuff like hunting and sports."
Jean Kazez "Talking Philosophy"

Christ With a BIG Penis
"A statue by Terence Koh of a tumescent Christ in Gateshead has led to predictable howls of outrage, followed by the now familiar scratchy noise of lines being drawn in the sand. "Enough gratuitous offence to believers!" says one side; "enough kowtowing to religious sensitivities!" say the other.

"This case is actually clear-cut because the Christian suing the Baltic Centre is theologically confused. Every good Bible-believing Christian must know that Christ was all God and all-man (which is an impressive 200% being) and that he is "one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are" (Hebrews 4:15). That means it is orthodox belief that Christ had a penis, which was at least once erect. Even the evangelical minister who taught us RE knew that, and I remember him admitting how troubling he found the thought of his saviour suffering sexual temptation.

"But not all complaints about religious offence can be so easily dismissed as failing on their own terms. What are we to say of these?

"Saying that we have a right to offend skips over the question of whether we are right to offend."
Whether or not someone is "right" to offend is not yours to choose, Mr Baggini. No law could ever be structured on the "correctness" of one's free speech offences.

"Free speech is indeed precious, but that doesn't mean that we have to defend without qualification every moron who abuses it. [W]e should not always be in as much of a hurry to defend the offender, even when we allow their right to offend."

Defending the offender's right to free speech is not the same as "defending the offender" of his offences, Julian.
Julian Baggini

Are You Contradictory About Your Beliefs About God?
The Philosopher's Magazine Online asks, "Can your beliefs about religion make it across our intellectual battleground?"

"In this activity you’ll be asked a series of 17 questions about God and religion. In each case, apart from Question 1, you need to answer True or False. The aim of the activity is not to judge whether these answers are correct or not. Our battleground is that of rational consistency. This means to get across without taking any hits, you’ll need to answer in a way which is rationally consistent. What this means is you need to avoid choosing answers which contradict each other. If you answer in a way which is rationally consistent but which has strange or unpalatable implications, you’ll be forced to bite a bullet."

It is going on midnight, and it's been a long day. I think I'll take TPM up on their game, but not until I've had enough sleep to use my critical thinking skills.

Quotes For Your Weekend

If you can't describe what you are doing as a process, you don't know what you're doing.
W. Edwards Deming
Compromise, hell! ... If freedom is right and tyranny is wrong, why should those who believe in freedom treat it as if it were a roll of bologna to be bartered a slice at a time? Senator Jesse Helms
All my life I've wanted to be someone; I guess I should have been more specific. Lily Tomlin
In the true Literary Man there is thus ever, acknowledged or not by the world, a sacredness: he is the light of the world; the world's Priest; -- guiding it, like a sacred Pillar of Fire, in its dark pilgrimage through the waste of Time. Thomas Carlyle

There is only one success: to be able to spend your life in your own way, and not to give others absurd maddening claims upon it. Christopher Darlington Morley (1890-1957)
"The worst guilt is to accept an unearned guilt." Ayn Rand; "Atlas Shrugged"

It's kind of fun to do the impossible. Walt Disney
Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us. Jane Austen; "Pride and Prejudice"
The American businessmen, as a class, have demonstrated the greatest productive genius and the most spectacular achievements ever recorded in the economic history of mankind. What reward did they receive from our culture and its intellectuals? The position of a hated, persecuted minority. The position of a scapegoat for the evils of the bureaucrats. Ayn Rand
"The American Dream [is] one of the greatest ideas in the history of human achievement . . . It thrives today in an age when its core components of freedom and opportunity are open to more Americans than ever before. It holds a real, identifiable place in the American heart and mind, and it informs the aspirations of everyone from farmers to software developers, from detectives to bankers, from soldiers to social workers . . . It defines us as a people, even as we add to its meaning with each new chapter in our national experience and our individual actions."
Dan Rather
Life can be wildly tragic at times, and I've had my share. But whatever happens to you, you still have to keep a slightly comic attitude. In the final analyses, you have got not to forget to laugh.
Katharine Hepburn
Character contributes to beauty. It fortifies a woman as her youth fades. A mode of conduct, a standard of courage, discipline, fortitude and integrity can do a great deal to make a woman beautiful. Jacqueline Bisset
We were eighteen and had begun to love life and the world; and we had to shoot it to pieces. The first bomb, the first explosion, burst in our hearts. We are cut off from activity, from striving, from progress. We believe in such things no longer, we believe in the war.
Erich Maria Remarque; "All Quiet on the Western Front"
The soul is dyed the color of its thoughts. Think only on those things that are in line with your principles and can bear the light of day. The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you do is who you become. Your integrity is your destiny — it is the light that guides your way. Heraclitus
The four cornerstones of character on which the structure of this nation was built are: Initiative, Imagination, Individuality and Independence. Edward "Eddie" Rickenbacker
Anger is always concerned with individuals, ... whereas hatred is directed also against classes: we all hate any thief and any informer. Moreover, anger can be cured by time; but hatred cannot. The one aims at giving pain to its object, the other at doing him harm; the angry man wants his victim to feel; the hater does not mind whether they feel or not. Aristotle; "The Art of Rhetoric"

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The Free Assemblage of Metaphysical Naturalists is the sm of the Academy of Metaphysical Naturalism tm, the educational arm of the Assemblage. This publication © 2008 by Curtis Edward Clark and Naturalist Academy Publishing ®

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